Google May Leave Fast-Growing China


    This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

    China says it has passed Germany and become the world's top exporter. Exports totaled more than one trillion dollars last year. That was down from two thousand eight, but about thirty billion more than Germany.

    China's influence in the world has increased with its fast-growing economy. The United States remains the largest economy. China is third and gaining on Japan.

    A Chinese flag waves beside Google headquarters in Beijing
    A Chinese flag waves beside Google headquarters in Beijing
    Manufacturing has expanded, fueling exports. But China has not imported as much as its trade partners would like. Its policies about valuing its currency and its human rights record have also created tensions.

    And now there is a new dispute. China is the world's largest Internet market, but Google says it may leave. The company said it was targeted last month by a major Internet attack launched from China.

    It says "intellectual property" was stolen and the attackers sought access to Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. At least twenty other large companies in different industries were also targeted.

    Also, the company said it is no longer willing to censor search results as required by Chinese law. Google says it is still observing censorship laws, but it will hold talks with the government in the coming weeks. launched four years ago this month. Google is estimated to have around a thirty percent share of the search market in China. But that is only about half the share of the Chinese search engine Baidu. Baidu also reported an attack on its Web site earlier this week.

    Online advertising sales in China are estimated to bring Google only a few hundred million dollars a year. Not much for such a big company, notes business expert Fariborz Ghadar at Penn State University.

    FARIBORZ GHADAR: "Google has to make a decision whether they want to basically deviate from their vision mission statement that they 'do no harm' and stay in China. Or whether they have just had enough and they don't like the restrictions, and they don't like the cyber attacks, and they're going to move out so as to preserve their name and brand."

    Online activity in China is closely watched and the government tries to limit access to many sites, including VOA.

    On Thursday a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said "China's Internet is open" and that Chinese law bars cyber attacks. Another government official said China itself is the victim of a growing number of foreign attacks.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would like an explanation from the Chinese about Google's accusations. She is giving a speech next week about Internet freedom.

    And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.